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Fred Siegel, City Historian and a Former Liberal, Is Useless at 78



Fred Siegel, a passionate city historian whose rejection of the liberal institution’s response to crime, poverty and public civility reworked him from a spokesman for the Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern in 1972 to a voter for Donald J. Trump in 2020, died on Sunday at his residence in Brooklyn. He was 78.

The trigger was issues of a sequence of infections that had left him hospitalized on a visit to California, his son, Harry, stated.

Mr. Siegel was a professor emeritus on the Cooper Union for the Development of Science and Artwork in Manhattan, a senior fellow on the Manhattan Institute for Coverage Analysis, a conservative suppose tank, and an creator.

His ideological evolution was evidenced within the titles of his books: “The Future Once Happened Here: New York, D.C., L.A., and the Fate of America’s Big Cities” (1997); “The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York, and the Genius of American Life” (2005), which he wrote with Harry Siegel; and “The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class” (2014).

Mr. Siegel had been an adviser to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was elected mayor of New York Metropolis in 1993 and got here to treat him as town’s biggest chief to occupy that workplace since Fiorello La Guardia, who presided throughout the Nice Melancholy. He argued that the Giuliani administration had tremendously decreased crime and debunked the traditional view that town was ungovernable.

Mr. Giuliani “revived the republic with more than a touch of Machiavelli’s corrupt wisdom,” Mr. Siegel wrote.

As a historian, he would establish the roots of liberalism within the writings of Herbert Croly and H.G. Wells, who had envisioned faculty graduates as a brand new elite class that may lead an enlightened democratic authorities the place the European aristocracy had failed.

At the same time as a disillusioned liberal, Mr. Siegel maintained a love affair along with his Ditmas Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, which he by no means left regardless of his disillusionment with what he seen as New York Metropolis’s wayward progressive authorities. He defended the rights of immigrants and mocked Newt Gingrich, the Georgia Republican who was speaker of the Home within the late Nineteen Nineties, for asserting that New York was depending on Washington when in actual fact Mr. Gingrich’s personal district benefited from huge federal authorities subsidies.

And, maybe extra in sorrow than in anger, he quoted former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York as saying that his fellow Democrats had “rewarded the articulation of moral purpose more than the achievement of practical good.”

Mr. Siegel stated in an interview with Metropolis Journal in 2020 that John V. Lindsay, who was mayor from 1966 to 1973, “was a classic liberal in that intentions counted for more than outcomes, and the trade-offs that we always have to make in order to make policy work, were alien to him.”

In the identical journal in 1991, Mr. Siegel argued: “Middle-class citizens, rightly or wrongly, have become convinced that modern liberal urban government is mostly about letting the poor misbehave at the expense of the middle class, and paying public employees very well to deliver services very poorly.”

He was a protégé of the literary critic Irving Howe and kind of adopted his ideological trajectory.

Mr. Siegel’s metamorphosis — from a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, a fellow of the Progressive Coverage Institute and a voter for the unbiased John Anderson in 1980 and the Democrat Walter F. Mondale in 1984 (every time voting in opposition to the Republican Ronald Reagan) — reached its apogee (relying on one’s political standpoint) in 2020.

After a lifetime of sitting out presidential elections or largely voting for losers, he forged his poll for Mr. Trump.

He listed his causes for doing so in 2020 in an interview with The Wall Road Journal, lauding Mr. Trump for “crushing ISIS, pulling us out of the Iran nuclear deal, moving our embassy to Jerusalem and making fools of those people who insist that the Palestinian issue is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” He additionally favored Mr. Trump, he stated, for displaying an “ability to withstand a prolonged coup attempt by the Democrats and the media” and for championing “bourgeois values.”

In a web-based tribute this week, Brian C. Anderson, the editor of Metropolis Journal, wrote that Mr. Siegel had recognized what he referred to as a “riot ideology” that took maintain of public officers in main cities, “making them reluctant to confront public disorder and crime for fear of violent opposition.”

“His work was central to the renewal of American cities beginning in the 1990s, especially New York,” Mr. Anderson wrote.

Lawrence J. Mone, the previous president of the Manhattan Institute, stated that by turning into a fellow on the analysis group, Mr. Siegel “opened it up to disenchanted people from the Democratic left who had a vision of the way the world worked and realized that it didn’t work.”

“He was creating a safe haven to get these people in from the cold,” Mr. Mone stated.

Amongst these progressives whom Mr. Siegel didn’t convert was Ester R. Fuchs, a political scientist at Columbia College and Mr. Siegel’s someday debate adversary.

“Fred was a lovable, gifted, intellectual puzzle who never stopped thinking or caring about New York City,” Professor Fuchs stated. “His judgment was clouded by his disappointment with the liberal establishment (who were also wrong!). While he understood the white ethnic working class, he did not understand the Black and Hispanic poor and working class.”

Frederick Fein Siegel was born on March 27, 1945, within the Bronx to Albert and Selma (Fein) Siegal. His dad and mom ran an employment company till it closed throughout the 88-day newspaper strike in New York in 1978.

Fred Siegel attended Rutgers College, the place he was an errant pupil. He went on the street to make his fortune however was disenchanted when hustling pool proved to be a useless finish. He later earned a doctorate from the College of Pittsburgh.

In 1976, he married Jan Rosenberg, a sociologist. Along with his son Harry, she survives him together with one other son, Jacob, and 4 grandchildren.

Mr. Siegel taught on campuses of the State College of New York from 1973 to 1980; on the Sorbonne in Paris from 1980 to 1981; and as a professor of historical past and the humanities on the Cooper Union from 1982 to 2010. He was a member of the Institute for Superior Research in Princeton, N.J., from 1989 to 1990; the editor of Metropolis Journal from 1990 to 1993; a columnist for The New York Publish from 1994 to 1997; and a scholar in residence at St. Francis School in Brooklyn from 2011 to 2018.

Harry Siegel stated that his father’s liberalism was largely formed by conversations along with his maternal grandfather, a garment employee and labor organizer, and that his political conversion as an grownup was gradual.

The essayist Irving Kristol famously outlined a neoconservative, a breed Mr. Kristol epitomized and popularized, as “a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” However Mr. Siegel’s conversion wasn’t the results of a single private expertise, his son stated — regardless that a thief as soon as grabbed a bag of $100 value of kosher meat from him on the subway and several other of the household’s automobiles had been stolen.

If Mr. Siegel approached a philosophical epiphany, although, it was throughout the blackout of 1977, when looters raged by means of components of Brooklyn, stripping shops of merchandise and setting them ablaze in an evening of rioting.

Mr. Siegel, whose favourite restaurant, Jack’s Pastrami King, was among the many locations destroyed, mirrored in 2017: “The city itself had been mugged, I realized. I’m still haunted by that moment from 40 years ago, when my political re-education began.”

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